As a kid and a cartoonist, I drew quite a few superheros, the most fun part of which was coming up with the cool costumes. Now that The Avengers is out and grossing its expected millions, it made me wonder what kind of costume I might draw for Jesus as an Avenger (1 Thess 4:6). Unfortunately, the Bible offers little by way of visual description of Jesus. We get a good description of John the Baptist, decked out to remind us of Elijah in his camel and leather, but the closest we get to Jesus is in the Zacchaeus story (Luke 19:3) where we read “he was short.” We always presume this to be talking about the vertically challenged tax collector, but the pronoun could just as well be referring to Jesus.
Not that it matters since Avengers don daunting wardrobes once it’s time to do some justice. For this role we have a couple of options for Jesus, the most dramatic from that graphic novel book of Revelation. In chapter 19, we encounter an Avenging Rider (whom we’re told is King of kings and Lord of lords only now grown quite tall and menacing) astride a white stallion. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood with a sharp sword protruding out of his mouth. He’s got this iron scepter he uses to wage war and do justice. Powerful stuff.
Of course he needs power to take out the evil beast and the false talker all the other wicked kings and villains of the earth. The Avenging King hogties the Beast and the Liar and pitches them screaming into a lake of fire, then wipes out their minions leaving them as carrion for the vultures that circled above. It’s as good as any summer blockbuster movie. The book’s been a bestseller for centuries.
Granted, it goes against the mild-mannered pastel Jesus we’re used to seeing in the Sunday School story books. That’s a good picture too. But on those mornings when you wake up to read about the violence and atrocities that evil ruthlessly perpetrates against the innocent of this world, believing in God that will righteously roll in one day to avenge helps me pray mercy for those perpetrators and genuinely mean it.